By Brooke Katz

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – From winter storms to the pandemic, the past year has been tough for so many people.

“We haven’t only been experiencing stress, but chronic stress because it’s been going on for so long,” said Theresa Murphy, the Director of Behavioral Health for Methodist Family Medicine Residency Program.

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She said all that pressure can add up.

According to a survey from Kiser Family Foundation, 43.4 percent of adults in Texas are reporting symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. Nationwide the number is closer to 41.5 percent.

For perspective, according to the CDC, pre-pandemic from January to June of 2019 the numbers were closer to 11 percent.

“Evidence shows us that having even small, you know, like sizable chunks of time that we can use to improve our health makes a difference long term,” Murphy said.

One way to do that is by simply being present in the moment, known as mindfulness.

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“Things like connecting in nature, going on a walk,” she said. “If you’re going to have a cup of coffee, instead of maybe scrolling on some type of social media just maybe being present and being focused on that coffee, and really noticing how does the sensation feel.”

Studies have shown a wide range of benefits including improved focus and working memory, less emotional reactivity, and even better satisfaction in your relationships.

Besides mindfulness, Murphy also suggested giving guided mediation a try. There are all sorts of apps that can help you find a style that works for you.

“You are the most important person actually; you can’t take care of others until we take care of ourselves,” Murphy said.

Another easy way Murphy suggested for practicing mindfulness is to take a moment when you wash your hands.

For 20 seconds just focus on the water, the way it feels in your hands and what it looks like.

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For more ideas, click here.